Russian Circles Are Latest Band to Not Sell Merch at Show
The conversation around the percentage venues are taking from band’s merch sales continues to heat up. Post-metal vets Russian Circles have become the latest band to protest this issue by not selling their merch at a show in Paris, France today (March 22).
On Instagram, the band issued the following statement, explaining that it was the venue’s decision to contract someone from a separate company to sell the merch for the band that ultimately led to declining to sell anything at the gig.
“As you are probably aware, merch sales are vital to keeping artists financially afloat while on tour. Venues often take a percentage of merch revenue from artists, and their rates have gotten higher in recent years. At tonight’s show in Paris, the venue has enlisted an outside company to sell artists’ merch,” the statement begins.
Essentially, the venue is contracting out the role that is typically occupied by a touring band’s own designated merch person. And with that, comes an extra percentage of the sales Russian Circles would have had to forsake.
“This company takes a 25 percent commission and withholds a 20 percent VAT tax,” the band, who last released Gnosis in 2022, says of the financial situation, further explaining, “Our options appear to be either raising our prices or losing money, so we’ve opted to not sell merch tonight. We apologize to our friends and fans in Paris who were hoping to grab a shirt or LP at the show, but we don’t want to partake in this arrangement with this company. If you want our merch, it is always available at Evil Greed. Thank you.”
There’s a growing chorus of rock and metal artists speaking out about the increasing share of merch revenue venues are swiping from bands. With inflation driving touring costs way up, it’s increased the risk factor for countless bands, many of whom already operate on thin margins. Even Anthrax had to cancel an entire European tour because of these surging costs, including the price of tour buses doubling or tripling in some instances.
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